Decades-long study finds smoking increases death risk in men with prostate cancer

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  • A new study investigated the link between smoking and prostate cancer.
  • The researchers used data from more 350 000 men over 40 years.
  • Smokers showed a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer.

A new study has found that men who smoke have a higher chance of dying from prostate cancer.

The study published in European Urology investigated smoking as a risk factor, on its own, and combined with body mass index (BMI), for prostate cancer and death.

The researchers enrolled 351 448 men from five Swedish cohorts from 1974 to 2016, with data on the men's smoking habits. They extracted the data from the Swedish Cancer Register and the Swedish Cause of Death Register. From the cohort, 24 731 participants developed prostate cancer, and 4 322 died from the disease. 

Importance of regular screening

The study showed a lower prostate cancer risk and incidence for smokers. However, smokers had a higher risk of prostate cancer death than non-smokers. The risk of death was increased when smoking was combined with overweight and obesity.

The reason why smokers showed a lower risk of prostate cancer may be because smokers did not undergo screening as regularly as non-smokers, according to the researchers. 

"A probable explanation for the lower risk of prostate cancer in smokers is that they may be less likely to take an asymptomatic PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. On the other hand, smokers have a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer, which we observed regardless of tumour stage at diagnosis, so this means all forms of prostate cancer, from low risk to metastatic," says study author Dr Sylvia Jochems in a news release.

Researchers say that further studies are needed to clarify the causes of the poorer prostate cancer prognosis seen in smokers, as well as the effect of smoking cessation after diagnosis.

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